After a long 3 weeks of packing, moving and then unpacking again, my new kitchen in Lake Tahoe was at long last orderly enough to cook something.
Not ready for baking or making pasta from scratch quite yet (just 3 more boxes!), but manageable enough for a one pot meal.
Now that I live 15 minutes away from the nearest Safeway and an hour from a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, I have to get used to stocking up on my favorite pantry essentials when I can. And stock up I did! On our way up during moving day, with our SUV filled to the brim, I told Chris I had to get a “few” items at the last Trader Joe’s before we begin climbing into the mountains. I went a little overboard and ended up with 2 grocery bags at my feet, one in my lap and one on the arm rest. Chris was furious, but I couldn’t imagine not having access to my favorite, perfectly diced (and affordable) pancetta!
I use this stuff so much: as a base for sauces, added into pastas, as part of an omelette filling, as a crunchy topping for a soup like this one, and more!
Yesterday was our first stormy day in the mountains of Lake Tahoe and I craved a cozy, creamy soup that would taste and smell like fall. And what’s more fally than apples?
I had plenty of pancetta in the fridge just waiting to be crisped, a beautiful bag of rainbow carrots and gorgeous Fuji apples on the counter. And I even remembered to get some heavy cream! I had everything to make my Creamy Apple-Carrot Soup infused with Rosemary and topped with crispy Pancetta and Panko.
I’ve made rosemary infused carrot and apple puree for years to serve with pork, it’s a perfect combination!
One time I added too much liquid and decided to turn it into a soup. It evolved into this delicious recipe that makes a perfect start to a cozy fall dinner.
I wish I could say I followed it up with a roasted pork loin over polenta with an Italian mushroom ragu, but I don’t know where my roasting pan and meat thermometer are just yet…only 3 more boxes!
I had so much fun cooking this cozy soup on a rainy day in my new kitchen. The house smelled divine while the soup simmered, and the colors of the ingredients are so stunning, even the peels were making me hungry!
I hope you enjoy making this creamy, but light carrot and apple soup infused with rosemary and good luck on not eating the crispy pancetta and toasted panko topping while the soup cooks 😉
Pancetta vs Bacon – What’s the difference?
I knew that Pancetta is the Italian version of regular bacon and that they both come from the belly region of the hog, but I didn’t know what actually distinguished the two. After some investigation, I learned that the difference is in how the pork is prepared. For bacon, it is usually cured in brine, while pancetta is cured by seasoning the belly with lots of salt and any desired spices for flavor, and then rolled up and wrapped to create the pancetta shape. So, both are cured, but usually using different methods. The major difference is that after curing, bacon is also smoked, while pancetta is not. Pancetta gets most of its unique flavor from the seasoning used during curing, while bacon gets infused with smoke flavors from a variety of woods like apple or maple. The smoke does not cook the bacon, just flavors it.
Even though I’m obsessed with pancetta, good quality bacon gets equal opportunity in my kitchen, especially during breakfast time 🙂
- 6 Rainbow Carrots (or regular)
- 3 sweet red apples, like Fuji
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large garlic clove
- 3 tbs olive oil, divided
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/3 cup finely diced pancetta (or bacon)
- 1/4 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups Chicken Broth (homemade ideally)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbs heavy cream
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- A few Rosemary Sprigs
- 1 small red Thai chile or a few hot pepper flakes or pinch of cayenne (optional)
1} Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and a few small rosemary sprigs (add one for each guest you are serving, if they are too big, just use the tips of the sprig). Cook, stirring often, until Pancetta is crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn heat to low, add the Panko and cook another 2 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted. Remove rosemary sprigs from pan and set aside. Remove the pancetta and Panko mixture and set aside separately. Wipe the pan clean to remove any breadcrumb bits.
2}Meanwhile, chop the onion and hot pepper (if using) and finely mince the garlic. Peel and chop the carrots and apples into even chunks.
3}Heat remaining 2 tbs oil and 2 tbs butter over medium low heat until butter is melted. Add chopped onion, minced garlic and chili. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt (about 1/4 tsp) and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Place a large rosemary sprig on top and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
4}Add the chopped carrots and apples, cook over medium heat, stirring, to brown slightly, another 5 minutes or so.
5} Add 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of water, stir with spoon to combine. Partially cover and simmer on low for 40 minutes. If after 40 minutes, the carrots are not soft enough to be pureed, cook another 5 to 10.
6} Let the soup cool slightly, then transfer to blender and puree (in batches if necessary). Add soup back to the pan and heat on low to warm. Stir in the lemon juice, heavy cream and season with a little more salt and pepper to taste.
7}Spoon the soup into serving bowls, top with some of the crispy pancetta / panko mixture and place one of the crisped rosemary sprigs over the topping.